Joel Goodwin: Serving Corvallis during COVID-19

Joel Goodwin is a lieutenant with the Corvallis Police Department.

William Ross, News Contributor

This Q&A is the tenth in a 19-part series, “19 COVID-19 Stories,” updated on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, diving into the unique perspectives of the Corvallis community as they face COVID-19 and all its social and economic effects. 

Joel Goodwin is a lieutenant with the Corvallis Police Department. Since COVID-19 brought about the stay-at-home order in Oregon, officers in Corvallis have been continuing to do their jobs, although it’s not quite business as normal.


What are officers like yourself doing to take care of themselves in a COVID-19 world?

Within the building we have spread out our staff, this is maintaining good social distancing. Our administrative staff is now working from home rather than the office and we have some staff in the morning and in the evening that are wiping down surfaces. We have a portable hand washing station just outside the building for when the officers get back. We are making sure we are keeping people separate and keeping common areas as clean as possible. Officers have always had hand sanitizer available to them. We are just making sure we maintain that supply and making sure it’s being used. We also have masks available if an officer feels like they need them for a specific circumstance. If we know we are going into a place, that’s a suspected COVID-19 issue we will put on full protective gear. 


Are officers maintaining distance from citizens they may encounter?   

If we are interacting with folks out on the street, we are definitely trying to keep social distance even more than we normally would. For officers it is a little more second nature because we try to keep a distance for safety anyway, but we are being more vigilant about that. If it’s for something like an expired registration officers are giving people a pass on that because of the circumstances that are going on. Low level traffic violations for that we are less likely to pull someone over. Of course if they are speeding or driving dangerously we are still taking the appropriate enforcement action.     


Has petty crime lowered at all since the stay-at-home order?

There doesn’t seem to be. There are fewer people out and about, which is great to see. Unfortunately, it seems like criminals still aren’t following the stay-at-home order. We haven’t seen a decrease in criminal activity. We are getting calls from community members that are reporting people violating the governor’s orders, that is adding a lot to the work we are already doing. If someone really is violating the order we are taking an educational approach, it doesn’t help anyone to just haul them off to jail if we can address the problem just through education.


Has Corvallis seen a rise in domestic violence since the stay-at-home order took effect?  

We have not seen any specific indication in the rise of domestic violence.


Have there been any difficulties with your job since COVID-19?

We haven’t been able to do any public outreach or education like we would normally do. Any meetings we had with community partners have gotten cancelled or are now online with Zoom. But it is definitely better to have some of our staff working from home, even if it’s not quite the same sending an email as a conversation would be. By and large our work has not significantly changed of course on our days off we are in the same boat as everyone else with being stuck at home. 


Has there been an uplifting part of all this, even with COVID-19?

I think the one thing that is nice is we are hearing a lot of stories of how people are being more patient and a little more friendly than they normally would be. When we do see folks, they are expressing how appreciative they are that we are still out doing our job. It’s nice to see the community support.   


Is there anything you want people to know during this time? 

We really appreciate everyone’s willingness to keep the community safe by staying home and maintaining social distancing. It’s really vital that we come out of this as healthy as we can be. 


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